Iran crowd support at FIBA ‘2nd to PH’

Levi Verora
Given Iran's respectable basketball fan base in Manila, the 2007 FIBA Asia titlists will get even tougher

SUPPORTERS. Iran supporters, many of them students here, rally behind their team. All photos by Levi Verora

MANILA, Philippines – From tip-off all the way to the final buzzer, one packed section inside the Mall of Asia Arena stood out among the rest: a rabid bunch of Iranians came to showcase their undying support for the Iran national team in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships.

As the Middle East squad cruised to a 115-25 demolition of Malaysia on opening day, a good-sized crowd gathered in the lower box level armed with their lasting cheers which drew the attention of fans in attendance.

Others sported the Iranian flag while those without it face-painted themselves with the red, white, and green.

BEHIND THE FLAG. After a convincing victory, Iranian supporters vow to root for their team.

Among those present was 22-year-old Amir Khalili, who has been living in the Philippines for 3 years now. He said basketball is just the second most popular sport in their football-crazy nation. However, they were not ready to let the opportunity to demonstrate their love of country during the 11-day tournament, slip away.  

“We love the sport. It may be just second to football but we always want to support our team,” said Khalili. “Especially now that there is an NBA player in our team (Haddadi), we won’t let this (opportunity) pass.”

Indeed, the Iranians comfortably transformed the venue like it were their home turf, cheering wildly and chanting each player’s names. Khalili, a dentistry student at Centro Escolar University, thinks that in terms of crowd support, they rank second only to the Philippines.

“Others even have classes and are wearing their uniforms,” said Khalili, who was also present when Mahram-Iran dispatched Smart Gilas during the FIBA Asia Champions Cup held in Pasig two years ago. “We are expecting good games here.”

With Iran’s respectable basketball fan base in Manila, the 2007 FIBA Asia titlists will get even tougher when competition reaches its decisive stages. –


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